This is the Riot for the month of September 2011. Our numbers were pretty stable here on the ole homestead. Mostly just the 3 of us. Our first year’s averages were calculated here, our second year’s averages can be found here. Edson fixed the calculator!

Gasoline.  Calculated per person. A trip to DC in it for DH, for work, and he carpooled, but I’ve no way to calculate that. I on the other hand am now walking Amie to school – and it’s just been wonderful! – so though I drive more for the activism, all in all I drive less.

22.65 gallons per person

55% of the US National Average

Electricity. First full month since the installation of our solar and our bill said 0 KWH!

Yes, we produced more electricity this month than we consumed!

The electricity company even gave us credit for what we produced over and above what we consumed. Turns out we do still have to pay something, though: not production charges (obviously!) but still delivery charges, because our system is grid-tied.

Solar doesn’t get as high a “percentage discount” (as a green technology) as wind does. De to the calculator being down, I was calculating it like wind, but now I have no excuse. So the percentage will jump a bit.  This is reckoned per household, not per person.

458 KWH (our solar) and 0 KWH (NSTAR)

25.3% of the US National Average

Heating Oil and Warm Water. This too is calculated for the entire household, not per person. During these warm months it’s basically for hot water, which is stupid.

8.5 6.5 gallons of oil

13.8% 10.5% of the US National Average

{UPDATE} 3 Jan 2012: The way I have been calculating our heating oil consumption is by reading off the furnace how many hours it ran, then multiplying it by .85 because that’s the amount of gallons of oil I *thought* it used. Now DH just told me that our furnace is more efficient than that and the correct number is .65. Hence the correction

Trash. After recycling and composting this usually comes down to mainly food wrappers.

10 lbs. pp per month

7% of the US National Average

Water. This is calculated per person.

511 gallons pp.

17% of the US National Average

On Monday evening there was an interesting meeting in my town, about a small wooded piece near a local pond that is under threat of the bulldozer and development. I wanted to go and hear what it was all about, meet the people organizing against it happening. Hear the arguments on the other side…

But I had spent most of the weekend “on the beat”: Moving Planet all day Saturday, on Sunday a presentation about Transition to my town’s First Parish Green Sanctuary Committee (which, I believe, I am now a member of), putting together a press release about the previous day, picking up the sandwich boards from the intersections, setting up some of our coming events, and in the late afternoon getting my neighborhood’s block party going.

So I stayed home, cooked a meal and had dinner with my family. We read books together and I took Amie to sleep. Then I read my novel (scfi-fi, these days, total escapism!).

I am now doing this kind of work, “volunteer activism,” pretty much full-time.  I email, maintain two websites, design fliers, write article, schedule talks and meetings, prepare presentations, and plot world domination plan events during the day, when Amie is at school and while she reads or does homework. The events, talks, presentations and meetings themselves happen in the evenings and over the weekends. That’s because that’s when people are “off work” and can come. This means I have very little down time anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! I’m saying, like I often do when I describe Transition, that it takes the whole person: heart, hands, and head. Weekdays and weekends. On and off. I think that’s right, I think that’s how it should be. I live what I preach. I am moved by the cause day and night. I think I am lucky, that I don’t have to tear myself in two, that I carry my passion around with me at all times, at home and “on the beat”.

I’m still going strong and I’ve got my buddies looking out for me, making sure I don’t burn out. So one of them went to the meeting instead. And I could stay home, and take care of myself and my family.

I got a report in the morning.

That question is easier to answer: 8 became 20 became 45 became 1500.

On the Walk to Walden, 7 humans and 1 horse. As we walked in the humid, mosquito-filled 80F weather, through Wayland, Lincoln and Concord, more joined. By the time we reached there were about 20 of us, and at Walden Pond we met up with about 20 more for our “Thoreau moment” with 2 speakers. Read all about this part of the day in the  Wayland Patch.

Then we high-tailed it to the Concord train station, where we just about caught the train into Boston for Moving Planet – New England. How many were there? Hard to tell. One radio station said 1000, but I’d say more, 1500 perhaps. We could count the heads on the mass picture they took at some point.

We had a great time, sauntering, chatting, listening to our speakers, dashing for the train, relaxing and networking during the train ride, marching through Boston chanting and laughing, meeting old and new friends, listening to the funny and moving speakers at the event.  I came home exhausted, limping, voice as good as gone. It was wonderful, we had been part of an event that took place in my own town and all over the world.

The day after, someone who had not gone to any of the events told to me “how disappointing it was” that not more people had showed up. Several things struck me about this statement.

First, the speaker didn’t say she was disappointed. She wasn’t, she was just making conversation. She meant that I must be disappointed. She wasn’t interested enough to have a feeling of her own about it.

Second, I thought I was disappointed but the more I think about it, I realize I’m not. I even have a hard time actually figuring out why I should be. I saw many people from my town there, some I had invited, some came as a surprise. True, I missed some friends who had done their best and couldn’t make it, but I wasn’t disappointed that they weren’t there: they had helped and were there in spirit. They cared. And then there were those who were there: all of us understanding and supporting each other. Tens, thousands of us!

Third, what does it mean when someone who doesn’t care, says that “it was disappointing”?  Is she really saying, “Only a 1000, it couldn’t have been that important, so it was okay for me not to be there”? Or even “this movement isn’t big enough for me to care about yet”?

Now there’s an interesting conundrum!

It’s akin to the situation of so many waiting to invest in solar technology because they’re waiting for better technology to come on the market – thus actually holding back that the emergence of the better technology they’re waiting for!


We are the people we are waiting for!

The moment is now.

I’m struggling with all this.

I look forward to reading Frances Moore-Lappe’s new book Ecomind with  Transition Wayland. Its subtitle is Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want.

Solutions to global crises are within reach… Our challenge is to free ourselves from self-defeating thought traps so we can bring these solutions to life.

I hope it delivers! I need some answers, soon!

Tomorrow is the big Moving Planet Rally, at 3:50 pm (!)  in Boston. Transition Wayland is leading the Walk to Walden in the morning.  For  the local event, the Walk, we did big (local) publicity and emailed hundreds of people, communities and organizations in town. We built and painted sandwich boards that went up at the three major intersections. My friend Wen Stephenson wrote beautifully about why he is Walking to Walden tomorrow in an op-ed in the Boston Globe, which was voted one of the five best Thursday columns this week by the AtlanticWire, and was re-published in an expanded version in Grist.

How  many will come? It’s always hard to know. Before our meetings, which we hold in different places each time, our hosts invariably ask: how many chairs will you need? I always laugh and say: it’s a surprise!

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many come. If tomorrow it’s the same old people, it’ll be worth it. We’ll get to know each other better. We’ll carry the banner. We’ll go.

Dear friends,
I hope this email finds you well and that your Summer/Winter was as fruitful as mine. I even have a perfect ending for it: a rally for a better future!
On Saturday 24 September people all over the world will come together in a global event called Moving Planet. Our presence will send a clear and positive message that it’s time to get serious about our climate and energy future, about moving beyond fossil fuels.
I am sending this letter to several hundreds of people, all over the world. There should be something on that day for each of you, and if not, organize something! You can find out more at
It will only work if you and I participate. And if you know what I’ve been up to for the last couple of months, you know that I take that “you and I” quite literally, quite seriously!
For those of you nearer by, Boston is one of at least five major U.S. cities where simultaneous big events will take place. From 4 to 6 pm there will be a peaceful, festive rally at Columbus Park on the waterfront. Check out Twitter: @Moving_Planet and @MovingNE Facebook: Moving Planet New England. I hope to see you there!
If you’re even closer by, how about joining me earlier at Walden Pond for a “Thoreau moment”, then walking with us to Concord to catch the train into Boston? That way you will be part of the “Great Muster of the West,” a confluence onto trains on the MBTA Fitchburg/South Acton and Framingham/Worcester lines. We’ll ride into Boston together and have plenty of time to talk and meet new friends. Let’s fill up those trains, make lots of noise and have fun!
Or, even more wild, join us on a historic Walk from Wayland to Walden (5.5 miles north on Rt. 126, a beautiful walk, under 2 hours, with a sidewalk path nearly the entire distance). Details are available on
Will you come? Will you spread the word? Will you bring a group?
Remember Wendell Berry’s poem, the Manifesto of the Mad Farmer Liberation Front? That line: Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. “Let’s consider the facts together and make laughter and hope in each other’s company.
I’ll be there. Will you?
Comment for your thoughts, your plans, your questions. Let us know where you will be moving the planet.

I’m at my desk, not working, in the warming sun – wearing a sweater again – enjoying a coffee and listening to Bach’s Matthew Passion (Emma Kirkby soprano) after what must be years, that particular piece of music, not the rest. Though, honestly, it feels like years since I’ve sat here not frantically writing emails, composing spreadsheets and posters, tinkering with sundry websites… Just relaxing, writing.

You’ve noticed, I’m sure!

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

A lot of my Summer went to  Moving Planet New England, with grass-roots and person-to-person outreach to many organizations, large and small, in some 20 communities in the Metrowest, trying to get them all to board the same train into Boston on 24 September. I have met many great people and learned a lot from them: how to motivate and support people, how to “work the press” and organize a big event.

Moving Planet is a regional effort for me as well as a local one, since Transition Wayland will make a (hopefully) big showing at the Rally after Walking to Walden and then hopping on that (hopefully) packed train. Now that the flurry of regional outreach is done, we’re working on banners and billboards.

Transition Wayland is taking off again after the Summer doldrums, during which many of our people were traveling. After Moving Planet and Walking to Walden we’re kicking off a big communal project called Wayland Walks – mm, anyone see a pattern here? Our town is big on conservation, and we have many woods, wetlands and trails  protected against development. But many of these trails have fallen off the map. No one walks these trails any longer, owners don’t even know a trail (and easement) runs through their property, and many have become impassable, forgotten. The plan is to put all of it back on the map. We will develop an online, interactive map where groups and individuals can record their walks. We’ll also help organize group tours with themes and experts: someone who can identify the birds or plants, connect us spiritually with our little piece of the Earth, help us do holistic science near the watershed, or regale us with local history.  That way we’ll locate these trails, assess their condition, and invite friendly conversations with the property owners. The idea is to light up the map by the 375th Anniversary of Wayland and build great community and sense of place.

There, that’s  the pitch.  You like it?

The idea is not for Transition Wayland to organize this, of course (the thought!) but to initiate the project and to  facilitate its organization. We’ll get all the conservation, trail, nature and community groups in Wayland together in a room and see what we can come up with.

We’re also showing the movie In Transition 1.0 – and people are *loving* it – and doing our Climate Change event, called Treading Water at different locations, speaking with the local Clergy, and in October we’ll actually be doing the sermon for a large congregation. People are recognizing us and the responses are always encouraging. I’ve many thoughts that I want to share about Transition….

The Green Team is school-related but that doesn’t mean we’re off in Summer. It runs all year long now that it has taken on some big projects. The biggest one at the moment is composting and deep recycling in the entire school district, a coup for Massachusetts. We spent one whole hot week in Summer building compost bins and now we’re training the kids and staff at one school to get the system down. Once that pilot is successful, we’ll quickly help the other schools do the same.

Here I am working on a bin

The Green Team was my “entry” in volunteering and the Wayland community at large, last year, and it was thanks to this passionate and encouraging group that I came to believe that Transition Wayland would be possible, and that I could do it.


Wait a moment! “At my desk, not working”?! My coffee’s cold, the music stopped a while ago…  I’ll sign off now, and go tend my garden.

We’re back. On Sunday, Irene knocked down a couple of trees on our block, which mostly missed people, houses and cars, but got hung up on the electricity cables. Power was restored yesterday, after four days. More on that, later. First:

This is the Riot for the month of August 2011. August saw ebbs and flows of people at our house. Averaging them out, we were 4.9 people (roughly, 3.9 adults, 1 child). Throw me a bone and call it 5. Our first year’s averages were calculated here, our second year’s averages can be found here.

Sharon is getting the Riot up and running agai on Facebook. Edson fixed the calculator! My Wayland friend Andrea has started her own Riot and began, bravely, with electricity.

Gasoline.  Calculated per person.

11.09 gallons per person

26% of the US National Average

Electricity. We got our first bill after the installation of our solar, which was tuned on  on 9 August. It has been a sunny month, and the array is performing wonderfully – except when the grid is down and the whole thing shuts down, no matter how sunny the days after a hurricane.

Solar doesn’t get as high a “percentage discount” (as a green technology) as wind does, but there not being a new Riot percentage calculator yet, and to make it easier on my calculations, I’m counting solar and wind as the same, percentage-wise.

The calculator reckons per household (5 people), not per person.

312 KWH (our solar) and 154 KWH (NSTAR wind) =466 KWH total

13% of the US National Average

Heating Oil and Warm Water. This too is calculated for the entire household, not per person. It’s up from the last Riot because there were more of us using the hot water for showers, which is basically all our heating oil is used for these days.

9.35 7.15 gallons of oil

17% 11.6% of the US National Average

{UPDATE} 3 Jan 2012: The way I have been calculating our heating oil consumption is by reading off the furnace how many hours it ran, then multiplying it by .85 because that’s the amount of gallons of oil I *thought* it used. Now DH just told me that our furnace is more efficient than that and the correct number is .65. Hence the correction

Trash. After recycling and composting this usually comes down to mainly food wrappers.

10 lbs. pp per month

7% of the US National Average

Water. This is calculated per person.

504 gallons pp.

16% of the US National Average